I tried putting my pictures on the blog yesterday with an update but after an hour of internet time I gave up because only one pictures loaded. I don't know why, but it may be weather oriented or just a weak signal out here. So I am back to telling you about our great little excursion to the west coast and the Waipua Forest. We left around noon in Paihia and drove to a little Maori town of Kaikohe (meaning that it is a workers' town with nothing touristy about it and the Northland area is mostly where the Maori people have settled) We stopped for lunch and then hit the road for the little historical harbor of Rawene.
There is a ferry that leaves there to go across to the sand dunes and the northwestern side of the north island; lots of people ride sandboards down the sand-dunes to the water which looks like fun, but we just stopped at the old hotel for a cool drink, talked to a few locals who were playing pool, and continued on our way down the coast, enjoying hokianga nui a kupe, the returning place of Kupe, "the Polynesian navigator, founding father of Maori lore and leaver of legends and landscapes bearing names" We stopped in Opononi, a tiny seaside resort known for its famous dolphin who came into the bay, befriended the children and remained in the harbor for a season, playing with the tourists who came from afar to see him, and there we booked a room for the night and found out about the Kauri forest we were about to visit. By that time the sun was out, the sea was sparkling, the green on green hills were magical and the clarity of the coastline was stunning.
We drove onto the Waipoua Forest and visited the giant old Kauri trees which hold a very strong spirit, much like the giant old Redwoods of N. Calif. We did a few short hikes through the thick,lush forest filled with ferns, fern-trees, and flowers, as well as those exotic big thousand year old trees. We stayed out there most of the afternoon and were so very happy that we had a place to spend the night. We woke up to the warm sunshine once again, explored a beautiful park out on the bluff of the harbor, stopped at a wonderful little cafe over-looking the fantastic view and didn't leave the area until afternoon. As we traveled back to Paihia for a bit of grocery shopping, we returned to the clouds and the wind, with smiles on our faces and warm memories of the intense natural beauty of this island. It was a great road-trip and we love our $1400 toyota!!!
Today we have lots of rain and are about to go into shore ( the hardest part of being out here on a mooring), take warm showers, and head off with some cruisers we have been playing music with on Friday nights; we are taking the ferry over to Russell to go to a free ukaleli(sp?) orchestra concert in an old hotel. Should be a great way to spend a dreary, rainy Sunday afternoon.